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Sensory symptom profiles differ between trigeminal and thoracolumbar postherpetic neuralgia

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      Differences in somatosensory profiles in different localisations in 1 distinct disease (postherpetic neuralgia) were shown. This might have implications for future research and treatment regimes.



      Animal experimental evidence suggests that mechanisms of pain generation and response to treatment differ between neuropathic pain in the cephalic and the extracephalic innervation territories.


      The objective of the study was to examine whether in humans an identical peripheral painful neuropathy is associated with different pain qualities and sensory abnormalities in the face as compared with the thoracic region.


      We retrospectively analysed epidemiological and clinical data of 639 patients with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) in the face and at the trunk who were collected within a cross-sectional cohort survey and compared the respective sensory symptom profiles captured with the painDETECT questionnaire.


      Two hundred twenty-four patients suffered from trigeminal PHN and 415 from thoracolumbar PHN. There were no significant differences in sex-ratio, age, body mass index, and pain duration. Patients with trigeminal PHN were more often severely depressed. Anxiety and sleep scores were not different. The average pain intensity was slightly higher in thoracolumbar PHN than trigeminal PHN (visual analogue scale 5.0 vs 4.6). Postherpetic neuralgia in the thoracolumbar region showed significantly more intense burning sensations, allodynia, painful attacks, and significantly less prickling and numbness than PHN in the face.


      The differences in sensory symptom profiles between facial PHN and truncal PHN might be associated with different pathophysiological mechanisms and different treatment response. Drugs that primarily act on sensitization processes in the peripheral nociceptive system may work better in thoracolumbar PHN than in trigeminal PHN. If new medications are tested in patients with PHN, it would therefore be of interest to include an analysis of the treatment results in regard to subgroups based on the localisation of pain in patients with PHN.

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      Central sensitization: implications for the diagnosis and treatment of pain.

      Nociceptor inputs can trigger a prolonged but reversible increase in the excitability and synaptic efficacy of neurons in central nociceptive pathways, the phenomenon of central sensitization. Central sensitization manifests as pain hypersensitivity, particularly dynamic tactile allodynia, secondary punctate or pressure hyperalgesia, aftersensations, and enhanced temporal summation. It can be readily and rapidly elicited in human volunteers by diverse experimental noxious conditioning stimuli to skin, muscles or viscera, and in addition to producing pain hypersensitivity, results in secondary changes in brain activity that can be detected by electrophysiological or imaging techniques. Studies in clinical cohorts reveal changes in pain sensitivity that have been interpreted as revealing an important contribution of central sensitization to the pain phenotype in patients with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, musculoskeletal disorders with generalized pain hypersensitivity, headache, temporomandibular joint disorders, dental pain, neuropathic pain, visceral pain hypersensitivity disorders and post-surgical pain. The comorbidity of those pain hypersensitivity syndromes that present in the absence of inflammation or a neural lesion, their similar pattern of clinical presentation and response to centrally acting analgesics, may reflect a commonality of central sensitization to their pathophysiology. An important question that still needs to be determined is whether there are individuals with a higher inherited propensity for developing central sensitization than others, and if so, whether this conveys an increased risk in both developing conditions with pain hypersensitivity, and their chronification. Diagnostic criteria to establish the presence of central sensitization in patients will greatly assist the phenotyping of patients for choosing treatments that produce analgesia by normalizing hyperexcitable central neural activity. We have certainly come a long way since the first discovery of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity in the spinal cord and the revelation that it occurs and produces pain hypersensitivity in patients. Nevertheless, discovering the genetic and environmental contributors to and objective biomarkers of central sensitization will be highly beneficial, as will additional treatment options to prevent or reduce this prevalent and promiscuous form of pain plasticity. Copyright © 2010 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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        painDETECT: a new screening questionnaire to identify neuropathic components in patients with back pain.

        Nociceptive and neuropathic components both contribute to pain. Since these components require different pain management strategies, correct pain diagnosis before and during treatment is highly desirable. As low back pain (LBP) patients constitute an important subgroup of chronic pain patients, we addressed the following issues: (i) to establish a simple, validated screening tool to detect neuropathic pain (NeP) components in chronic LBP patients, (ii) to determine the prevalence of neuropathic pain components in LBP in a large-scale survey, and (iii) to determine whether LBP patients with an NeP component suffer from worse, or different, co-morbidities. In co-operation with the German Research Network on Neuropathic Pain we developed and validated the painDETECT questionnaire (PD-Q) in a prospective, multicentre study and subsequently applied it to approximately 8000 LBP patients. The PD-Q is a reliable screening tool with high sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive accuracy; these were 84% in a palm-top computerised version and 85%, 80% and 83%, respectively, in a corresponding pencil-and-paper questionnaire. In an unselected cohort of chronic LBP patients, 37% were found to have predominantly neuropathic pain. Patients with NeP showed higher ratings of pain intensity, with more (and more severe) co-morbidities such as depression, panic/anxiety and sleep disorders. This also affected functionality and use of health-care resources. On the basis of given prevalence of LBP in the general population, we calculated that 14.5% of all female and 11.4% of all male Germans suffer from LBP with a predominant neuropathic pain component. Simple, patient-based, easy-to-use screening questionnaires can determine the prevalence of neuropathic pain components both in individual LBP patients and in heterogeneous cohorts of such patients. Since NeP correlates with more intense pain, more severe co-morbidity and poorer quality of life, accurate diagnosis is a milestone in choosing appropriate therapy.
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          Measuring depression outcome with a brief self-report instrument: sensitivity to change of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9).

          The nine-item depression module from the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) is well validated and widely used as a brief diagnostic and severity measure, but its validity as an outcome measure for depression has not yet been established. Therefore, we investigated the sensitivity to change of the PHQ-9 in three groups of patients whose depression status either improved, remained unchanged, or deteriorated over time. From three cohorts of medical outpatients, with an equal distribution of major depressive disorder, other depressive disorders, or no depressive disorder, 167 patients (82.7%) were followed up after a mean of 12.3 +/- 3.0 months. The PHQ-9 and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID) were completed at both baseline and follow-up. Depression diagnoses from the SCID were used as the criterion standard to divide patients into subgroups with (a) improved depression status, (b) unchanged depression status, and (c) deteriorated depression status. Effect sizes (ES) of PHQ-9 change scores were ES = -1.33 for the improved depression status subgroup (n = 52), ES = -0.21 for the unchanged status subgroup (n = 91), and ES = 0.47 for the deteriorated status subgroup (n = 24). PHQ-9 change scores differed significantly between the three depression outcome groups. The PHQ-9 and the SCID were completed in person at baseline, whereas they were completed in a telephone interview at follow-up. This study demonstrates the ability of the PHQ-9 to detect depression outcome and changes over time. Data from treatment trials will help further establish the sensitivity to change of the PHQ-9 in comparison to other depression severity measures.

            Author and article information

            [a ]Sektion Neurologische Schmerzforschung und –therapie, Klinik für Neurologie Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, Germany
            [b ]StatConsult GmbH, Magdeburg, Germany
            [c ]Zentrum für Anästhesiologie, Intensivmedizin, Schmerzmedizin und Palliativmedizin, Benedictus Krankenhaus Tutzing, Tutzing, Germany
            [d ]Klinik für Anästhesie, Technische Universität München, München, Germany
            [e ]Klinik für Neurologie, Technische Universität München, München, Germany
            Author notes
            [* ]Corresponding author. Address: Division of Neurological Pain Research and Therapy, Department of Neurology, Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel, Arnold-Heller-Straße 3, Haus 41, 24105 Kiel, Germany. Tel.: +49 431 500 23911; fax: +49 431 500 23914. E-mail address: moritz.grosskopf@ (M. Groβkopf).
            Pain Rep
            Pain Rep
            Pain Reports
            Wolters Kluwer (Philadelphia, PA )
            January 2018
            06 February 2018
            : 3
            : 1
            5802323 PAINREPORTS-D-17-0065 10.1097/PR9.0000000000000636 00002
            Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of The International Association for the Study of Pain.

            This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CCBY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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